So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (2015) by Jon Ronson is about all us jerks at home who join the online mobs. Mobs with rage that is very extreme when compared to some of the small-scale acts. The three cases that saddened/shocked me the most were the jokes that inexplicably went viral and were categorized as racist, insensitive to veterans and misogynist. Their lives were destroyed socially as well as professionally and Google search results haunted their dates, job interviews and more. I don’t remember their names, even after reading about them and most people who were part of this shaming probably won’t even remember them after hitting send, retweet or forward. And yet, for the shamed, the result of the online mob effect has literally changed their lives forever.
This book was a super quick read, and really interesting. Robson traces the use of shame as punishment all the way back to colonial times when corporeal public punishment was still a thing. And, guess what, those torturers thought that public shame was way worse than picking off a person’s nails. Bravo, all you self righteous anonymous people hiding behind your screens and valiantly crusading against … a tiny every-day joke.
You see how anticlimactic that was? Exactly, we could all waste our time fighting bigger, badder things. We’re all part of this, myself included, forwarding appalling treatment of children to groups, or making fun of someone who did something stupid.